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Murder in the Baker’s Oven

A trio of grisly tales from the ongoing series in which genealogist Rivka Goldblatt delves into the more interesting corners of the JC Archive

    It was Miss Scarlet with the candlestick, in the drawing room. We play murder games, read murder stories and watch murder films. What is it about singular and grotesque murders that thrills us so much?

    Psychology aside, here are some stranger-than-fiction murder stories from the archives of The Jewish Chronicle. They are from the 1800’s – but could they happen today?

    Basle, Switzerland 25th December, 1841.
    At Oberdorf, in the canton of Solothurn, there has existed for 40 years a report, that several Jews had
    once entered a certain house there and had never been seen again.

    A judicial investigation which was instituted at the time, was attended by no results and the impression became general, that the poor Jews had been burned to death in a baker's oven.

    The house has recently passed into other hands, and the new proprietor, having occasion to make some alterations in the premises, discovered under the flooring, deeply buried in the earth, some human skeletons with cloven skulls.

    The authorities have had their attention called to the circumstance.

    Renovating your house? Better check news from fifty years ago. There may be skeletons in your cupboard – I mean, under your floorboards. The murderers will be long gone, though – unlike in this creepy tale from June 1858:

    HORRIBLE MURDER UNDER RELIGIOUS DELUSION
    On Thursday week a horrible murder was committed at a small farm in Lyme Handley, Cheshire.

    Henry Bloomfield, a man who had shown signs of insanity, appears to have got up in the night, fetched a cleaver, and beaten his wife to death by repeated blows on the head.

    The unfortunate man was found after the murder quietly lying on a sofa.

    On being asked what he had been doing he answered “I’ve killed the devil”.,Bloomfield has since said that he had a ‘mission’ and that the Lord told him he was going to kill his wife when he replied "Nay, Lord. I'll kill her myself.”

    From prophet to thief – Bloomfield killed instead of G-d, this maid axed her mistress to steal some clothes.

    HEARTLESS MURDER OF A JEWESS, 8th May 1874
    A horrible murder is reported from Vienna.

    A girl about 20 years of age entered the service of a Jewish family during the recent Passover.

    On the following day, whilst the master of the house was at synagogue, his wife, who had only two weeks previously been delivered of twins, was found murdered in her bed, the horrible crime having been committed with an axe.

    The servant having disappeared, suspicion fell on her as the perpetrator of the murder. The police were instantly set on her trade, and in a short time she was captured.

    On being arrested she confessed her crime, alleging that she had murdered her mistress in the hope of finding some money.

    Disappointed in her expectation, and yet anxious to satisfy her lust for theft, she stole some wearing apparel with which she escaped from the house.

    Some thousands of florins were almost immediately collected in aid of the bereaved husband and his five children.The murdered woman was
    only 26 years old.

    Check your local news. Any murders today? Save them – they’ll be interesting in 100 years time…

     

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